Peter Greste trial: Egypt rejects criticism of judicial system after jailing of Al Jazeera journalists

Egypt sentences Al Jazeera journalists to years in prison

An Egyptian court has sentenced two Al Jazeera journalists to seven years in prison and another to 10 years, on charges including aiding the Muslim Brotherhood and reporting false news. A judge delivered the verdicts Monday against Peter Greste, an Australian citizen; Mohamed Fahmy, a Canadian citizen; and Baher Mohamed, an Egyptian citizen. Al Jazeera has always rejected the charges against its journalists and maintains their innocence. –Al Jazeera America.

The army of mechanical men no longer obeys my saxophone-issued orders! What will become of the noble workers!?
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Awesome 1935 Soviet Movie Deploys Saxophone-Controlled Robots to Crush Tophat- and Bowler-Wearing Capitalists

I wish I understood Russian, so that I could make sense of this 1935 Russian film featuring a mechanical man remote-controlled via saxophone. Apparently the capitalists take control of the invention and turn it on the workers, at least temporarily. The climax features the workers gaining control of the machines and using them to fight together against the evil capitalists. The story is obviously inspired by Rossum’s Universal Robots, the…

Lawsuit Against Warner/Chappell Music Claims Happy Birthday Belongs to Public Domain

20 years ago, I chose for my dissertation texts written from 1920 through 1950, expecting them to come out of copyright one after the other during my career as a professor, but the Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998 added 20 years. Disney has made dozens of movies based on characters that are in the common domain, but lobbied for a law to protect its own property. The story of…

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How Bill Gates pulled off the swift Common Core revolution

While I appreciate the efficiency of uniform standards, I am concerned because it becomes even more efficient to teach to the test, which means more students will arrive in my college classes expecting to be told exactly what to do. I want them to take risks which means I have to convince them that I will reward them, not take off points, for making and fixing mistakes — which can…

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Criminal Code: Procedural Logic and Rhetorical Excess in Videogames

Great example of the application of well-established humanities critical processes to the analysis of a technological artifact. Of all the possible options in the real world — increasing funding for education, reducing overcrowded housing, building mixed use developments, creating employment opportunities, and so on — it’s the presence of the police that lowers crime in SimCity. This is the argument that game makes, its procedural rhetoric. Naïve though it may…

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Even in the U.S., Chinese Students May Have Tiananmen ‘Amnesia’

But now that he was at college in America, someone had mentioned Tiananmen, a friend. And he went online, to YouTube and Google, and pulled up videos and photographs from 25 years earlier, images not easily accessible behind China’s Great Firewall, as its Internet-censoring regime is called. He kept looking at one, he said, “the one.” A photograph of an unknown man, futilely trying to block a column of tanks.…

You Are Not a Digital Native: Privacy in the Age of the Internet

Cory Doctorow tries to wake young people up to the realities of an online world controlled by companies that are hungry for your personal data. Facebook is a company whose business model is based on the idea that if they spy on you enough and trick you into revealing enough about your life, they can sell you stuff through targeted ads. When they get called on this, they explain that…

Amazon’s Tactics Confirm Its Critics’ Worst Suspicions

This week, as part of a contract dispute with the publisher Hachette, we’re seeing Amazon behaving at its worst. The company’s willingness to nakedly flex its anticompetitive muscle gives new cause for concern to anyone who cares about books — authors, publishers, but mainly customers. Here’s the back story: In an effort to exert pressure on Hachette, Amazon began taking down preorder buttons for many Hachette titles. It has also…

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Facebook, Now You Remind Me of a Half-Drunk Cocktail Party Schmoozer

Last week, Facebook asked me what sportsing teams I cared about (and helpfully supplied me with a list of the teams I’d be statistically most likely to favor if I had any interest in sportsing). Now Facebook is asking me what TV shows I’ve  watched. Well, yes, I’ve watched episodes of each of these shows, but I have no particular desire to define my online presence (and thus the marketing targeted to…

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Star Wars: TIE Fighter 20th Anniversary Retrospective

In the Star Wars films, the empire is evil to the core. But TIE Fighter let you see the empire from a new perspective. The game didn’t make you feel like a bad person doing bad things, but like a pilot who might reasonably have believed that what he was doing was in the galaxy’s best interests. | Now, some 20 years later, it’s extremely common for games to let…